Saturday, 10 March 2012

Design Part 1


Somebody I've known a long time asked me the other day, "How did you come to be making these lights?". Without thinking, I answered, "it just sort of happened".
Since then, I've been trying to find a better answer and I'm hoping that by writing it down, I may find out how it did happen.
John and I have always made things together. Often one will come up with the idea and the other will do most of the execution. The results have been various and many of our hairbrained schemes have ended up shelved or in the bin. Amongst what we count as our successes are a cow chess set, complete with marquetry board inlaid with abalone, various amplifiers and speakers and cast mirror frames featuring dragons, dolphins and celtic knots.



Our affection for colour change leds was mutual, though perhaps from different points of view. Myself, I have always loved stained glass and the related crafts by which you can get that " light through coloured glass" effect. I saw changing leds as a potential way to make a "moving" stained glass effect but they bring some problems with them.
Leds are mass produced and apart from a very few specialist products you may have seen, most things with leds in them are too. They provide a characteristic, harsh pinpoint of light when not diffused. I was convinced that there is a subtlety to be found in leds if they are suitably diffused and I set out to make a few little things to see if I could find a way to work with them.
My first maquets were of acetate sheet; polygons cut and folded as I was taught in primary school. (If there's one area where my education was adequate, it's geometry and I am grateful to them for that). I used various pale, translucent sheet materials, bonded into the insides with clear polyester resin.


It was around this time that we had the "filling a balloon with plaster" debacle but this is neither the time nor the place.
It became clear that the leds have to be out of the eyeline, so I made bases to set the pieces in from driftwood slices, and John wired them up, positioning the leds individually to get the best and most even light mixes.
The first name was one of these; cut from acetate and with the spaces and letter shapes blocked out in black, it being far too complex a shape to make fully. Of all the shapes I had made up to now the most pleasing (to me) had been a set of three "teeth" mounted together but  you can see from the image that the leds need to be further out of the eyeline. The names worked so beautifully that we decided to make a massive leap of faith. To find out if this actually was a good idea, we would need to cast each letter as a solid, clear piece with diffusion and that would mean moulds. Moulds that you can't buy.

Part 2 coming soon.

Posted by Jill


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